With a 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS run to end the regular season and a bit of help from other teams in the conference, the San Diego Chargers earned the final wild card spot in the AFC.
The Chargers will try to make the most of it when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday as seven-point underdogs and try to keep alive one of the strangest trends in NFL history.
Everything that needed to go right last Sunday for the San Diego Chargers did. Both Baltimore and Miami had to lose to open the door for the Chargers, and Kansas City's Ryan Succup missing a 41-yarder to win the game at the end of regulation gave San Diego new life against the Chiefs in overtime, which it took advantage of in the 27-24 win.
San Diego's 27-20 road win over the Denver Broncos as a 10-point underdog in Week 15 kept the Chargers in the playoff hunt and indicated that this team could beat anyone on the right week.
The stars aligned to keep this crazy streak intact. The past four seasons, the Super Bowl champion was the team that played in Philadelphia in the Eagles home opener. The team that played in Philly this year was the San Diego Chargers.
"We thought that trend was crazy last year and then the Ravens got hot and got lucky and won it all," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com. "So just to make sure, we bet some cash on the Chargers a month ago at 75/1."
After losing their first game on the road against the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati went 11-4 SU and 10-5 ATS for the rest of the season including a 5-1 SU and ATS run over its last five games.
The Bengals averaged 32.7 points per game while allowing 19.8 points per game, racking up solid wins over San Diego, Indianapolis and Baltimore in the process. And they have pulverized the point spread at home, going 11-1 SU and ATS in 12 recent home games.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals are 0-2 SU and ATS in the postseason since 2011; will this finally be the year that the team takes the next step and transitions regular season success into playoff success? They have lost five straight playoff games and failed to cover in all five.
Cincinnati is 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three games against San Diego. The last two games between these two teams have gone UNDER the total, with Cincinnati winning 17-10 in San Diego this year and 20-13 in San Diego last year.
Both of these teams enter this game in good form with strong finishes to the regular season. The Bengals have been forced to go on the road in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and should relish the chance to play a postseason game at home.
But they can't afford to take the Chargers lightly as San Diego is 3-1 ATS in their past four playoff road games.
Chargers Bengals Trends: (Wild Card trends on all games)
Bengals 0-5 SU & ATS past five playoff games
Bengals are 5-1 ATS vs the Chargers since 2002
OVER is 7-2-1 past 10 meetings
Chargers are 8-3-1 ATS past 12 games as underdogs
Bengals are 11-1 SU and ATS past 12 home games
Chargers are 3-1 ATS past four playoff road games
AFC Wild Card computer prediction: 29-24, Bengals